Board advisory committees
Board advisory committee members
Advisory committee members are selected every three years. These are the current members of Legal Aid Ontario's Board Advisory Committees.
Aboriginal issues advisory committee
Christa Big Canoe
Christa Big Canoe is a First Nation woman, mother and lawyer who aspires to increase access to justice for Aboriginal people. Known as a passionate advocate for First Nation children and women's rights, she is the legal advocacy director at Aboriginal Legal Services and currently serves as legal counsel for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.
Paula Corbiere, a lawyer from M'Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, holds a B.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School. Since she was called to the bar in 1999, Ms. Corbiere has worked in the justice program at the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising Tribal Council. She has been its justice manager since 2012.
Sarah Dover is a Brantford-based criminal defence lawyer whose practice focuses on working with Indigenous clients. She appears at all levels of courts in Ontario, including as duty counsel in Indigenous People's Court.
Barbara General is a member of and justice coordinator for the Six Nations Elected Council, Six Nations of the Grand River. She is Onondaga, Beaver, and has a M.S.W. from the University at Buffalo. She has worked in First Nations communities in south Ontario, British Columbia and the United States for the last 30 years providing front-line work as a community counsellor, university research assistant and child welfare coordinator in human services and crisis intervention. She has taught social work courses at the university and college levels.
Arthur Huminuk is Grand Council Treaty #3 justice director in Kenora.
Christina Ninham is a First Nations lawyer from Oneida Nation of the Thames. She has practiced family and child protection law since she was called to the bar in 2001. Her primary focus is on addressing the needs of many First Nations and marginalized people navigating the family court system. She is dedicated to trying to help make a difference in the lives of her clients within the family court system.
Joshua Payer is the Restorative Justice Coordinator at Tungasuvvingat Inuit (T.I.) in Ottawa, Ontario. T.I. is an Inuit-specific provincial service provider that delivers social support, cultural activities, counselling, and crisis intervention as a one-stop resource centre to meet the rapidly growing, complex and evolving needs of Inuit in Ontario. Previously, Joshua worked as a Counsellor at T.I. and has over five years of experience supporting the economically disenfranchised population in Ottawa as a shelter worker and manager. He graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Social Sciences with a specialization in Criminology and Psychology.
Lawyer Brenda Young is the justice director for her home territory, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. She received a Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship for the 2016/17 academic year and is also a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada's Equity Advisory Group. Her interest in international law as related to Indigenous human rights led her to participate in the 2013 Indigenous Fellowship at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Clinic law advisory committee
Lisa Cirillo is executive director of Downtown Legal Services, Toronto.
Shalini Konanur is a lawyer and the Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO). SALCO is a legal clinic that works with low-income South Asians in Ontario in various areas of poverty law. SALCO also advocates on issues of equity and their intersection with race, gender, poverty (socio-economic rights), ability, etc.
Karen Mathewson has been dedicated to enhancing the lives of people trying to survive on minimal incomes for more than 29 years. She is a paralegal and community legal worker with Community Legal Assistance Sarnia, chairs the local Poverty Reduction Network, and is on the advisory committee of the Community Health Centre. She has represented and advised clients on poverty law matters, and engaged in numerous community organizing, public legal education and law reform initiatives.
Trudy McCormick is executive director of the Northwest Community Legal Clinic and an executive member of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario.
Ryan Peck is executive director of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, located in Toronto.
Natasha Persaud is a Partner at Formative LLP where she practices Human Rights and Employment Law. As an Adjunct Faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School she supervises students at the Community and Legal Aid Services Programme and also holds the role of Alternate Discrimination and Harassment Counsel with the Law Society of Ontario.
Jeff Plain is a member of Aamjiwnaang First Nation located in Sarnia, Ontario. Since 2011, Jeff has administered Community Legal Assistance Sarnia's Baamsedaa (Let's Walk Together) Aboriginal outreach program. This program helps Lambton County's Aboriginal population access justice in a culturally appropriate manner.
John Rae is a disability and human rights activist. He is First Vice-Chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a board member of Injured Workers Consultants Legal Clinic, and a member of the Canadian Human Rights Museum's Inclusive Design and Accessibility Council.
Jennifer Stone is a Staff Lawyer at Neighbourhood Legal Services, currently on secondment as the Onsite Lawyer to the Health Justice Program, which is a partnership of the St. Michael's Hospital Family Health Team (FHT), Aboriginal Legal Services, ARCH Disability Law Centre, HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario, and Neighbourhood Legal Services. This Program's vision is to facilitate access to justice as a means of improving the social determinants of health for low income patients of the FHT.
Criminal law advisory committee
Scott Bergman is a criminal defence lawyer and partner with the firm, Cooper, Sandler, Shime & Bergman LLP in Toronto. He is also an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section.
Sunny Dhillon is a Researcher and Program Evaluator with the John Howard Society of Ontario. His current work has focused on remand as well as the intersection of health, housing, and justice.
Anthony Doob is Professor Emeritus of Criminology at the University of Toronto's Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies. He has been appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of his scholarship in the field of criminology and his role in shaping Canadian justice policy.
Annamaria Enenajor is a partner at Ruby Shiller Enenajor, Barristers. She currently practices criminal defence, constitutional and civil law when it intersects with state accountability. She graduated from McGill Faculty of Law in 2012 as the David L. Johnson gold medalist. From 2012 to 2013, Annamaria clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada for Justice Richard Wagner. She then practiced litigation in the New York office of an international law firm, where she focused on defending government enforcement actions and conducting internal investigations into allegations of corruption and bribery. She is a strong public advocate for cannabis decriminalization and frequently writes, lectures and speaks to the media on this topic. Follow her on Twitter: @AEnenajor.
Martin Friedland has been appointed to the Order of Canada, among many awards and honours. He is a Professor of Law Emeritus, specializing in criminal law, at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, as well as the author of 18 books.
Criminal defence lawyer Shaunna Kelly was called to the bar in 2008 and works for Hicks Adams LLP. She specializes in the special Aboriginal persons' Gladue court.
Matthew McGarvey was called to the bar of Ontario in 1995. He is an Eastern Ontario lawyer with extensive experience in criminal law and administrative law, and is a former Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa. He is also a part-time Vice-Chair with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal.
Akwasi Owusu-Bempah BA (Carleton) MA, PhD (Toronto) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Akwasi's work focuses on the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a particular interest in the area of policing. Prior to becoming a professor, he held positions with Canada's National Judicial Institute, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Emma Rhodes was called to the bar in 2002, started her own youth criminal justice practice in 2008, and is now a partner at Paradigm Law Group, LLP. Emma has been involved in a variety of activities to promote education and awareness of youth criminal justice issues including sitting on numerous panels for Legal Aid Ontario, the Ontario Court of Justice, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ontario Bar Association. In March 2014, Emma testified before the Senate of Canada's Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights about the overrepresentation of visible minority youth in the criminal justice system. Emma is also on the Executive of the Ontario Bar Association's Child and Youth Law Section and is on the Board of Directors for Justice for Children and Youth. Emma is currently an Instructor at Osgoode Hall Law School where she has taught Trial Advocacy since 2010, was an adjunct professor at University of Toronto from 2012 to 2014 for a course on Youth Criminal Justice, and has guest lectured at Humber College. She is the Criminal Lawyers' Association's representative for youth criminal justice issues for all of Ontario, a panel lawyer for the Office of the Children's Lawyer, and was selected to be part of the Ministry of Attorney General's Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program. Emma is co-author of Prosecuting and Defending Youth Criminal Justice Cases (Edmond Publishing).
Sukhpreet Sangha practices at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) as a Staff Lawyer. Prior to joining SALCO, Sukhpreet practiced as a criminal defence lawyer and argued matters before all levels of court in Ontario. Sukhpreet also happens to be an active theatre practitioner.
Ralph Steinberg was called to the bar in 1977, and has specialized in criminal law since then. He is a past president of the Criminal Lawyers' Association and the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (now Innocence Canada).
Yafet is the Program Director at For Youth Initiative; a youth-based charity in Toronto which provides a variety of programs and services for youth. Yafet has worked in Toronto around bridging community mobilization and advocacy with research and analysis. For Yafet, everything is an opportunity to organize because everything is an opportunity to educate. Yafet's background in implementing this philosophy is highlighted in years of experience in community outreach for non-profit organizations, political and social justice organizations, and as an educator and coordinator with a track record of publishing and thinking through issues of educational development and other social issues. He is also a skilled academic researcher with several years of project management experience within the non-profit and private sector.
Family law advisory committee
Nicholas Bala has been a Professor at Queen's University Faculty of Law in Kingston since 1989, and was assistant review counsel at the Queen's Legal Aid Clinic in 1978. He has published extensively on issues related to family and children's law, including recent work on access to family justice and reports for the governments of Ontario and Canada. He has been awarded the Law Society Medal (2009) and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2013).
Family lawyer Leighann Burns is the executive director of Harmony House, a second-stage shelter for women and children fleeing violence in Ottawa. In her legal practice, she focuses on helping women fleeing abuse.
Danette A. Edwards
Danette A. Edwards is a York Region based family law lawyer, called to the Bar in 2002. Danette has extensive experience working in the community legal aid system and for the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Claire Houston is an Assistant Professor at Western University's Faculty of Law, where she teaches and researches family and children's law. She previously articled at the Office of the Children's Lawyer.
Jean Hyndman practices family and child protection law in Toronto. She represents many parents on legal aid certificates. She also belongs to the Office of the Children's Lawyer panel and represents children and youth. She also co-chairs the board of the Family Lawyers Association as well as the FLA Legal Aid committee. Her contributions to continuing legal education include presenting at the 311 Jarvis and 47 Sheppard programs, the Everything Legal Aid Conference in January 2014 and consulting for Community Legal Education Ontario.
Marian Jacko, Children's Lawyer of Ontario, is Ojibway from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, located on Manitoulin Island. Ms. Jacko is a proud mother of two daughters and a son. In 1993 she completed her undergraduate studies in Social Work (Native Human Services) at Laurentian University in Sudbury. In 1996 she completed the combined Master of Social Work and Law program at the University of Toronto. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in 1998, Ms. Jacko worked in the Property Rights Department of the Office of the Children's Lawyer. While working full time, Ms. Jacko completed her course work and thesis and in 2005, she received her Master of Laws degree in Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution. In April 2015, Ms. Jacko joined the Ministry of Attorney General as Legal Counsel to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Indigenous Justice Division. In April 2016, Ms. Jacko was seconded to work with the Motherisk Commission as counsel to the Commissioner on Indigenous Issues.
Ms. Jacko has been very active within the Indigenous community, including serving on Board of Directors for non-profit organizations and advisory committees. In her spare time, Ms. Jacko is a rep hockey coach and is very involved with engaging Aboriginal youth in the sport of Hockey. Ms. Jacko volunteers with the Little Native Hockey League (Little NHL) executive and helped coach Team Ontario in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship 2016. Ms. Jacko is also the current President of the Mississauga Girls Hockey League.
Charlotte Murray is a Toronto-based family lawyer.
Joanna Radbord is a partner with the firm of Martha McCarthy & Company LLP in Toronto.
Joanna was the recipient of the Law Society Medal for exceptional career achievements and contributions in the areas of LGBTQ rights, family law, constitutional and human rights. Joanna has also been awarded the Canadian Bar Association Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference Hero Award and the Zenith Award Celebrating Women in Law. ,/
Joanna practices in all areas of family law, and seeks to advance substantive equality through litigation, intervention and law reform. Joanna is co-editor of the Ontario Family Law Reporter and past McMurtry Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School.
Louise Toone is executive director of the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic.
Julia Vera is the Chair of the Family Lawyers Association and past Vice President of the Canadian Hispanic Bar Association. She practices exclusively in the area of family law and child protection. She is also a member of the Personal Rights Panel for the Office of the Children's Lawyer, which represents, children in both custody and access and child protection cases.
Tamar Witelson is the Legal Director at METRAC, The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children. Tamar heads METRAC's Community Justice Program, which develops multi-lingual, multi-format legal information resources, so diverse women and youth who have experienced gender-based violence can understand the legal system, their rights and options. Tamar also works with other legal and community-based professionals to train frontline service providers, so they can assist marginalized and vulnerable women to access justice. Tamar's legal background has spanned the public and private spheres, with a focus on equality and human rights law. Before joining METRAC, Tamar was staff lawyer at the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), where she launched an equality rights website for legal news and analysis. She has served as Counsel at the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, and as Counsel at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, working on the transition to the Tribunal's current direct access model. She had a private practice in union-side labour and human rights law, following her Clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada. Before becoming a lawyer, Tamar worked for twelve years in television news, political and current affairs.
French language services advisory committee
Patrice J. Cormier
Bilingual lawyer Patrice J. Cormier, B.A., LL.B. graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1990 and was called to the bar in 1992. He has been in private practice with Julien & Cormier in Hawkesbury since 1992, specializing in family and criminal law. He has been a member of this committee since January 2015.
A senior business consultant in the Ministry of the Attorney General's Office of the Coordinator of French Language Services (OCFLS), Marie-Claude Gaudreault represents the OCFLS on this committee. Her objective is to make sure all programs delivered by justice sector ministries and customer service policies and procedures respond to the needs of Ontario's diverse Francophone community—through strategic policy, management and program advice to senior management and program managers. She has a B.A. in political science (Hon) and a Master's in public administration.
Madeleine Hébert has practiced administrative law in the legal clinic system for the past 25 years, and currently works at the Sudbury Community Legal Clinic. Before then, she practiced family and criminal law in a law firm in eastern Ontario. She has been a member of the Association des juristes d'expression française de l'ontario since her call to the bar.
Ayana C.T. Hutchinson
Ayana C.T. Hutchinson is a staff lawyer with Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Frontenac Law Association and also sat as co-chair of the Family Law Section of the association.
Ms Andrée-Anne Martel has been the Executive Director of the Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario (AJEFO) since 2014. After she was admitted to the bar in 2012, she became a project manager at AJEFO until she advanced to her current position. She has lectured at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa since 2013, sits on two boards—the Board of Trustees of Hôpital Montfort since June 2016, and the Board of Trustees of the Centre des services communautaires Vanier since 2013. She has a B.A. in social sciences with a minor in criminology, and a Juris Doctor degree.
Vicky M. Ringuette
Vicky M. Ringuette has practiced law since 2005, and works as a family law, child protection and fertility lawyer and mediator, in both official languages. She is the only such practitioner in Hamilton, and also serves Burlington, Brantford, Simcoe, St. Catharines and Welland. She also serves on the Clinique juridique communautaire de Hamilton and the Association des juristes d'expression français de l'Ontario. A member of the local group of lawyers who practice collaborative law, she also belongs to several family law panels, including the Office of the Children's Lawyer and Legal Aid Ontario. As a board member of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, she contributed to its designation as a bilingual organization.
Immigration and refugee law advisory committee
Deyanira Benavides, B.A. (Hons.), M.A. is a Community Legal Worker at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. She is a licensed paralegal and an experienced advocate in immigration and refugee law as well as clinic law.
Raoul Boulakia has been a lawyer in private practice in Toronto since 1990. A specialist in citizenship, immigration and refugee law, he is the president of the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario, and has served in many voluntary roles in community and legal associations. He regularly appears before the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court, and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. He has also spoken at many legal conferences and before Parliamentary and Senate committees.
Debbie Douglas is executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). Through her work in the non-governmental organization sector and particularly at OCASI, Ms. Douglas has championed equity and inclusion within the immigration system, including race, gender and sexual orientation. She has also promoted the creation of safe, welcoming spaces in the settlement and integration sector.
Hanna Gros is a refugee and immigration lawyer, as well as a pro-bono advocate at the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. Hanna co-authored three IHRP reports on the Canadian immigration detention system, focusing on its impact on children and mental health.
Jennifer Hyndman is a professor in the departments of Social Science and Geography at York University in Toronto, and is the director of the Centre for Refugee Studies at York. Her research focuses on conflict asylum and related human displacement, humanitarian emergencies, and refugee resettlement in Canada.
Rana Khan is the legal officer in Toronto for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Toni Schweitzer is the supervising lawyer in the Immigration Division at Parkdale Community Legal Services in Toronto.
Maureen Silcoff, a lawyer at Silcoff Shacter, specializes in immigration and refugee law. She co-chairs the Litigation Committee of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, belongs to the Refugee Lawyers Association Access to Justice Committee, and speaks frequently about refugees and access to justice at conferences and community events.
Richard Wazana is a sole practitioner practicing in refugee and immigration law in Toronto. He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2005 and articled at Green & Spiegel LLP. He was called to the Bar in 2006 and has practiced on his own ever since.
A former social worker and child care worker, Richard Wazana specializes in working with refugee claimants and undocumented persons. Much of his practice is centered around refugee claims, appellate work, and stay motions. He practices in French and English.
Richard Wazana has presented on a variety of topics before the CBA, the RLA and the RLO, He is a member of the RLA, OBA, CARL, and is a member in good standing of the Law Society of Ontario. He is the Chair of the Board of the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.
Mental health advisory committee
Lucy Costa is a systemic advocate at the Empowerment Council – an organization representing the voice of clients at CAMH. She focuses on promoting the rights of mental health service users, as well as encouraging critical analysis about service user inclusion in the mental health and legal sector. She sits on a number of advisories and has been involved with the psychiatric disability community for over 20 years.
Renee Griffin is the Executive Director of Scarborough Community Legal Services and President of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Renee was previously the Executive Director of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to preventing evictions and ending housing discrimination across Ontario. Renee has practiced law in the Legal Aid clinic system since 2008.
Greg Iwasiw is a lawyer in Kenora who specializes in criminal defence law. He was instrumental in founding Kenora's Mental Health Court.
Marion Overholt is executive director of Community Legal Aid in Windsor and of Legal Assistance of Windsor at the University of Windsor. She has been on the board of numerous community agencies and social justice initiatives and has been awarded the Law Society of Upper Canada Bicentennial Award of Merit.
Don Rose is an Associate Professor at the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Ryerson University in Toronto. He has held several positions in clinical practice, administration and academics. His research focuses on issues in forensic/mental health nursing.
David Shannon is a lawyer working in mental health, disability, child protection and child custody. He has an ongoing passion for the promotion and protection of human rights, social welfare, and organizational leadership.
Sandy Simpson is Chief of Forensic Psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. He is also Associate Professor and Head of the Division of Forensic Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Karen Steward is a staff lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (“ACE”), where she works on law reform initiatives, public legal education, and litigation (with a keen interest in constitutional and human rights issues). Prior to joining ACE, Karen worked at a social justice law firm, where her practice included civil and estate litigation, proceedings based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and acting as counsel for complainants/witnesses in criminal matters.
Marshall Swadron is a lawyer with Swadron Associates in Toronto, and also chairs the Mental Health Legal Committee. He practices in mental health and capacity law, seeking to enhance the autonomy and participation of vulnerable persons in their own decision making.
Prison law advisory committee
Nikki Browne is on a mission to construct social and systems change in and around the justice system. In 2015 she founded Nikki Knows, a grassroots initiative that leverages the lived experiences of criminalized young people, to deliver on that mission. As project manager for Project LUCID (a Nikki Knows project) she is currently working towards improving re-entry supports and outcomes for people who are or have been incarcerated in and around the GTA. She is also the women's community program coordinator at PASAN, a community-based health and harm reduction organization that provides support, education, and advocacy to people who are or have been incarcerated provincially and federally regarding HIV, HCV, and whole health.
Kathy Ferreira is the Executive Director of the Queen's Prison Law Clinic (QPLC) which assists federally incarcerated prisoners in the Kingston area and Warkworth Institution. She has been practicing prison law with QPLC since 2003.
Emily Hill is a senior staff lawyer at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto.
Elizabeth Hughes has worked across the USA, Canada and England in the areas of mental health, brain injury, developmental disabilities and youth at risk. She has been a patient advocate with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office since 2010, supporting clients at the Brockville site for The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. Before this, Elizabeth worked in the field of mental health advocacy in England. Her 15-plus years' experience working with patients, care providers and support organizations in the social service sector ranges from front line work to managerial oversight.
Lisa Kerr is Assistant Professor at Queen's University, where she teaches courses on criminal law, sentencing and prison law. She completed her doctorate at New York University as a Trudeau Scholar. Professor Kerr was previously staff lawyer at Prisoners' Legal Services in British Columbia. She has worked for many years on public interest litigation with Pivot Legal Society and the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Bilingual lawyer Amy Lavoie graduated from the University of Windsor in 2003 and was called to the bar in 2004. She practiced family law at the law firm of Hogarth Hermiston Severs, LLP until 2012 when she joined the Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic. As the senior staff lawyer at the Clinic, she practices in various areas of administrative law, engages in community outreach programs and serves as a mentor to new lawyers and paralegals practicing in and out of the clinic system.
Lisa Loader was called to the bar in 1994. She is the senior staff lawyer at Community Legal Clinic - Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes.
Michael Mandelcorn was called to the bar in 1987. A criminal defence and correctional law lawyer practising in Kingston, he is also the president of the Canadian Prison Law Association and a director of the Criminal Lawyers' Association.
Allan Manson is an emeritus professor at Queen's University Faculty of Law in Kingston. In 2016, he was a Keeley Visiting Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford. Prior to joining the Faculty at Queen's in 1977, he was a practising criminal lawyer in Toronto. Other positions include project director for the Ontario Law Reform Commission study of the coroners' system, deputy judge of the Yukon Territorial Court, and co-counsel to a party with standing at the Cornwall Public Inquiry for Wardle, Daley. He has written or co-edited many books, along with numerous articles and book chapters on criminal law topics, especially sentencing, imprisonment and evidence.
Kingston-based lawyer Leslie Morley specializes in prison and immigration cases. He assists prisoners at parole and immigration hearings and in the resolution of disputes with authorities within the prison system. He is a former President of the Ontario Prison Lawyers Association, the Canadian Prison Law Association and the Frontenac Law Association.
Paula Osmok has been executive director of John Howard Society of Ontario since 2002. During this time, she helped establish its Centre for Research, Policy and Program Development, which has contributed extensively to social and criminal justice literature and program development in Ontario. Prior to that, she was executive director of the John Howard Society of the (then) Victoria Haliburton Simcoe & Muskoka, where she developed and implemented a range of community-based services, including programming for provincial and federal prisoners. Paula holds a MSc. in Criminal Justice Studies from the University of Leicester in the UK and successfully defended the dissertation The DNA Identification Act: Privacy Implications for Canadians.
Kim Pate was appointed to the Senate of Canada on November 10, 2016. First and foremost, the mother of Michael and Madison, she is also a nationally renowned advocate who has spent the last 35 years working in and around the legal and penal systems of Canada, with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized—particularly imprisoned youth, men and women.
Senator Pate graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1984 with honours in the Clinical Law Programme. She was the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) from January 1992 until her appointment to the Senate in November 2016. She has developed and taught Prison Law, Human Rights and Social Justice and Defending Battered Women on Trial courses at the Faculties of Law at the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University and the University of Saskatchewan. She also occupied the Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 2014 and 2015.
Kim Pate is widely credited as the driving force behind the Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, headed by Justice Louise Arbour. During the Inquiry, she supported women as they aired their experiences and was a critical resource and witness in the Inquiry itself.
Senator Pate is a member of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Canadian Bar Association's Bertha Wilson Touchstone Award, and five honourary doctorates (Law Society of Upper Canada, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, St. Thomas University and Wilfred Laurier University).
Holly Pelvin holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of Toronto and is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta in the Department of Sociology. Her research examines the lived experiences and consequences of remand imprisonment, and explores the challenges that the remand population poses for correctional staff.
On January 1, 2017 Howard Sapers was appointed Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform for the province of Ontario. Between 2004 and 2016 Mr. Sapers served as the Correctional Investigator of Canada. Previously, Mr. Sapers has been the Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Alberta, an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta representing Edmonton Glenora, Director of the National Crime Prevention Centre Investment Fund and Vice Chairperson (Prairie Region) of the Parole Board Canada. Mr. Sapers is a Past President of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association, has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman and between 2012 and 2016 was a North American Regional representative to the International Ombudsman Institute. Mr. Sapers is an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Criminology, and has been awarded a Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Ottawa. Mr. Sapers is currently a member of the Ryerson University Department of Criminology Advisory Council.
Racialized communities advisory committee
Regini David is Co-chair of Ontario Project for Interclinic Community Organizing (OPICCO) and a Community Legal Worker at West Scarborough Community Legal Services. She has been involved in community development and community organizing at the grassroots level with women, workers of colour, new immigrants, racialized communities and low-income families for over 30 years in Sri Lanka, Germany, Canada and the USA. Her community activism started at the age of 14 in Sri Lanka. For 20 years she has been a workers rights advocate and a union organizer with the labour movement in Canada. She also coordinated the creation of Toronto East Employment Law Services to bring free employment law services to low-income communities in the East End of Toronto.
She has been a relentless advocate for raising the minimum wage and improving the rights of temp workers in Ontario. She is currently coordinating a campaign in Scarborough to legalize rooming houses across the city of Toronto so that affordable housing is available to low-income tenants. Regini is passionate and committed to grassroots organizing to bring about social and systemic change. To date, she has trained and empowered over 1000 community leaders directly impacted by issues affecting low-income communities.
Andrea A. Davis
Andrea A. Davis is a professor of literary and cultural studies in the Department of Humanities at York University in Toronto. She holds cross-appointments in the graduate programs in English; Interdisciplinary Studies; and Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies. Her research encourages an intertextual cross-cultural dialogue about Black people's experiences in diaspora.
Michael Harris is the Manager of Legal and Inquiries Services at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He has over 25 years' work-related experience in human rights, including working on race and race-related issues. His previous positions included Director, Case Management and Litigation, Provincial Case Management Office – Legal Aid Ontario and Director, Mediation & Investigation Branch, Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Joanne St. Lewis
Joanne St. Lewis is a law professor at the University of Ottawa. Her interests include social justice; digital defamation; African women; critiques of international trade; and art, culture and the law. She is a lecturer in the University of Southern California, CREATE, Executive Program on Counter-Terrorism. Joanne was the first Black woman to be elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. She served as the Chair of its Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee. She was co-chair of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Working Group on Racial Equality and author of the report Virtual Justice: Systemic Racism in the Canadian Legal Profession. She has held positions with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Race Relations Directorate. She has served as Executive Director of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). She served as the Special Assistant Government Affairs to the Grand Chief of the Crees of Quebec and contributed to the $100 million La Grande Agreement. More recently, she was co-counsel to the AFN in the preliminary stages of the successful human rights case challenging the federal government's discriminatory funding of child welfare services on-reserve.
Rinaldo Walcott is Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Mr. Walcott has published writings on music, literature, film and theatre, policy and other topics. His research and publications focus on Black cultural politics, histories of colonialism in the Americas, multiculturalism, citizenship and diaspora; gender and sexuality; and social, cultural and public policy.
Mr. Walcott is the author of Black Like Who: Writing Black Canada; the editor of Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism; and co-editor with Roy Moodley of Counselling Across and Beyond Cultures: Exploring the Work of Clemment Vontress in Clinical Practice. He published Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies (Insomniac Press, 2016).